The Sizzle

Issue 7 - Tuesday 12th October, 2015 - How Come?

No intro today as I'm not feeling well. Didn't get out of bed until noon, but crawled over to the computer to write this and now it's 4:22PM. I still haven't showered and I apologise for this typo riddled mess.

Today's the day all our metadata was supposed to be sucked up into a gigantic database accessible by various government authorities. Well if you're on Telstra, Australia's largest ISP with a massive marketshare, your fucked up browsing history is safe for now. According to a Comms Alliance survey of 63 ISPs, Telstra, along with 80% of other ISPs have applied to the Attorney-General's Department for an 18 month extension to get the systems required for retaining metadata into action.

Ben Grubb has written a great summary of what's currently known about the data retention law. For something so invasive, it's shocking how vague the whole thing is. These incompetent fuckwits can't even get their own evil plans working properly. Imagine what sort of horrible things they would do if they knew what they were doing.

Dell and EMC are merging to create a behemoth of a tech company. Dell is actually buying EMC for US$67b, which is apparently the largest tech merger/acquisition of all time. Dell has been privately held for a while now, receding from the sharemarket a few years ago after a private equity firm bought them. EMC was on the sharemarket but now will be owned entirely by Dell. Together the new company is worth around US$80b. Sounds like a match made in heaven to me.

You've probably heard of Dell, makers of relatively generic computers and cheap servers. But you've probably not heard of EMC unless you work in enterprise IT. EMC are into the storage game. Lots and lots of file servers. NAS units, SANs, gigantic SANs. Petabyte SANs. Even cloud backup stuff like Mozy. If it involves a hard drive, EMC are into it. EMC also own VMware the "industry standard" for virtualisation. They also own RSA Security, but they're total ratbags you can't trust.

This isn't really a surprise, but when Malcolm Turnbull was Communications Minister, he specifically and directly asked NBN Co to look at how expensive a full fibre rollout of the NBN would be versus their multi-tech mix NBN. Which is no big deal - I'd expect that. But they didn't compare the full fibre rollout as per it's original plan, but compared a made-up, gold plated super expensive fibre network, against the lowest estimates of the multi-tech mix. The government asked the NBN Co board to approve a bunch of other not so wholesome facts in their reports as well.

Meanwhile, the HFC portion of the NBN will undergo testing as of November until March 2016. This should have been done about 10 years ago. HFC is what most of urban Australia will be hooked up to via the NBN, as it's already in the ground. So maybe in another 10 years or so they'll get fibre. HFC is supposed to be a big part of meeting the Liberal's election promise of getting "every household and business to have access to broadband with a download data rate of between 25 and 100 megabits per second by late 2016". FTTN (aka the shit copper stuff) will only reach 500,000 users by mid-2016 and HFC trials end in March 2016. So I don't know how they're going to achieve that by mid-2016.

My mate Pete was given a Sony Xperia Z5 Compact, one of the few flagship smartphones around that isn't the size of a house brick and has written one of the first local reviews. Apparently it's a little buggy, the camera app is frustratingly slow to launch and doesn't run the latest version of Android. Pete loved the physical design of the phone though and the battery life on the Z5 Compact is amazing - lasting 2 days off the charger. For you people who actually like Android, maybe you'd like the Z5 Compact. Wake me up when it gets Android 6.0

Remember all the fuss about the Dallas Buyers Club court case? After all the lawyers got fat off that juicy case, it ended up with a judge saying DBC aren't allowed to ask whoever pirated their film for more than what the film cost plus a little bit of what it cost to track down the copyright infringer. Oh and that they have to put up a $600,000 bond that is kept if they do what the judge told them not to. Well DBC is back, asking the court for a handful of infringer's info so they can prove to the court they're nice guys, the $600,000 bond is unnecessary and should only be $60,000. These guys won't give up, because that's their business model - threatening people to pay up for stuff they downloaded off the Internet.


I mentioned a medical thing yesterday and in a nice coincidence, Scott Hansleman has blogged about his experience using a Dexcom G5 continuous glucose meter, which has Bluetooth and an iOS app. While it's a cool idea, the experience of the iOS app and the Bluetooth connection isn't fantastic. This is what those nerds at Facebook and Snapchat should be working on! There's so much room for improvement here, that will make a massive impact on people's lives.

A bunch of ex-Nokia people got together after Nokia was ransacked by Microsoft and the cool looking MeeGo project was shitcanned. They released a phone back in April last year that was nice, but gained no traction. Well Jolla is persisting with MeeGo's cousin, Sailfish, and have released a tablet. Engadget reviewed it and they reckon it's a classy device and quite original. But it has the same problem as Windows mobile, Blackberry and even WebOS (bless its rotting corpse) - no app ecosystem. Android and iOS have a stranglehold on apps and consumer attention. It would take a miracle at this stage for someone besides Google or Apple to achieve sizeable market share. Good on them for trying though.

If you read issue 2 of The Sizzle and liked that story from Wired about the fibre optic cables around the globe, I found a book you might enjoy. It's The Undersea Network, by Nicole Starosielski and is a 2015 version of Neal Stephenson's early 90s adventure. Probably not an as entertaining read as Neal's, but I'm still keen to read it. If one of you read it before me, shout out and let me know if you liked it.

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Like The Sizzle? Convert your free trial into a paid subscription now and never miss an issue! Already a subscriber? Thanks for being awesome.